The English Premier League is the most watched football league in the world, broadcast in 212 territories to 643 million homes and a TV audience of 4.7 billion people. Winning the promotion to the Premier League is a big deal and a big prize! My team, Hull City, is currently in second place and if they can maintain that position, they will be promoted to the Premier League and will be facing the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, and Manchester City next season.
By the time you read this, they may have already achieved this. But if they’ve slipped lower, all is not lost. They will have to pick themselves up from the disappointment of not getting automatic promotion, work on their fitness and get themselves mentally prepared to fight it out with four other teams in a play-off competition with a final at Wembley Stadium. They will have to give their best shot to win that coveted prize—the right to be placed in the top tier of English football.
As Christians we should be preparing ourselves too. And we have an even more amazing prize! Consider Paul’s words to the Corinthians:
“Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize”
—1 Corinthians 9:24-25 NLT
Our prize is the sure hope of eternal life, which was gained for us through Christ’s death and resurrection. It is a prize that will never fade away. It is definite. It is ours. In contrast, the three football teams gaining promotion will be winning a prize that will ultimately perish.
So, what does it mean for us to prepare ourselves for this prize? Paul gives us the answer: we are to exercise self-control in all things. This means striving for holiness by fleeing from “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies and things like these” (Galatians 5:19-21 ESV).
Leading such a disciplined life may seem a hard thing to do. And on our own it will be. However God’s promise of eternal life “comes [to us] through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God” (Philippians 3:9). Furthermore, Apostle Peter says that this prize is “kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4). It is ours already because of what Christ has done for us! Friends, let’s be encouraged by His faithfulness as we press on towards our prize!
Written By Sean Tong for YMI